SRI BALA CHARANAM
A NAVARATHRI WITH BALA
SEPTEMBER 30TH---- OCTOBER 9TH, 2008.
November 22nd, 2008.
I resumed my spiritual journal today after having concluded it rather finally, or so I thought, over a month ago. At that time, I considered my final destination to be Sri Bala at Bala Peetam in Nemili. A series of spectacular events in my life had brought me fully onto the path of Sri Bala Tripurasundari and Nemili is where I found her firmly ensconced, seated happily amidst her loving family. There was really nothing more to write about!
So, why should I resume this diary once more?
I received a few requests from a couple of interested readers who had come across my website and read some of my experiences. They asked me to not stop writing about the many inspiring incidents that continued to occur on this never ending spiritual journey. However, this was not really a good enough reason. I had to get the “official” sanction from Bala herself. How was this going to be possible?
Way back, in the early years, when my spiritual progress was in its infancy, I used to get visions and persistent dreams with marvelous deities or Gurus asking me or commanding me to execute paintings. I no longer get these dreams; neither do I sit in meditation for long periods of time with my eyes closed. No longer too, do I recite a long litany of Sanskrit verses and prayers to the Holy Mother.
These days, my prayers consist of listening to Bala’s songs at whatever time of day I get the urge to do so. While my first thought on rising every day is about Bala and continues at a deeper level to stay focused on her throughout the day, it’s as if I don’t “have” to allocate any special time for her during the day.
This change in my routine has happened so gradually over the past year that even I was caught unawares! The new habit seemed but a “natural” extension of my permanent state of mind.
I think of Bala every moment, in the day and all daily activities are indeed dedicated to her whether this might be cutting vegetables in the kitchen or cleaning the bathroom! I find myself totally immersed in this “Bala” thought and my external activities are carried on automatically while I merely witness them, while somehow being mixed up with Bala at the same time!
So, why did I feel I needed a nod of consent from Bala today before I started resuming my journal?
I don’t really know the answer to this; perhaps because I wasn’t too confident about proceeding ahead.
So, I sat in meditation for half an hour thinking of Bala, seeing her in my mind’s eye as a beautiful maiden adorned with jewels and seated on a swing. I could see her laughing at me as I pleaded her to give me a signal. “ Please show me you are here in this room with me. Maybe you can dance in front of me, jingle those lovely anklets you are wearing?”
I strained my ears. Nothing, not a sound could I discern. There was no one at home and I heard nothing except the muffled sound of traffic outside.
Try as hard as I could, I did not get even the slightest reply from Bala.
Rather reluctantly, I sat at my computer . After what seemed an eternity, I started typing the first few words. “A Navarathri….”
“ O.K. good, you started writing” I could hear Bala’s voice very clearly now.
“ Please give the same title in English that Baba.G has used in Tamil while narrating his experiences with me during Navarathri”.
I am still trying to figure this out even while my hands are speeding over the keyboard.
Are these voices simply my own thoughts, i.e. my own mind trying to justify some action I want to do anyway?
I’ve been on this path before. A small voice keeps telling me. “ Move on, Go ahead. Stop questioning Bala, Don’t try and analyse Her or put her on the spot by asking her to give you permission. Do what comes naturally to you”!
When I heard this last word “natural”, I instantly remembered my most recent conversation with Sri Baba.G a few days ago. He told me that he was better at composing songs than writing articles or essays. “ Amma”, he said “ When I write a song, it comes so easily to me in the same manner that one opens a window and lets in the cool breeze from outside. The breeze doesn’t find it difficult to fill up the space inside the room. I am just like that. In my natural state, I compose songs because I can perceive Bala sitting in my thoughts”.
Once again a certain diffidence bothered me. Of course, I thought, Baba.G is an exalted soul.
He lives at the Peetam, is probably a Siddha Purusha like the rest of them and how can I , an insignificant, small person compare to an intellectual giant like Baba.G? Moroever, he is Bala’s most favored child!
Well, to be honest, I don’t know what the answer to this question is going to be. One thing for sure, I do realize fully that Bala is guiding me away from experiencing any paranormal episodes or events. Her message is very clear “ Stop analyzing me. Stop questioning me. I am with you all the time. Take confidence in that. Don’t harbor any doubts”.
As I write the above sentence, I’m reminded of the statement that Baba.G has written in his last book, titled ‘Sri Bala Charitham”. He says he possesses no tantric or mystical powers. He is permanently in a state of communion with Bala .
It’s as if my doubts are being cleared automatically even before I voice them!
I have a feeling that the work I have commenced today is going to be totally different in style compared to the writings contained in my Spiritual Diary thus far. There, I was mainly narrating certain wonderful events that Bala caused to happen in my life over the past few years.
Today, Sri Bala, that adorable Child Goddess, that mischievous, lovable deity who loves to play games with her devotees, is actually going to tell me each day what I should write about.
She tells me to now give this following title:
“The Thirteen miracles Of Bala during the Nine Auspicious Days of Navarathri, 2008”.
THE THIRTEEN MIRACLES OF BALA DURING THE NINE AUSPICIOUS DAYS OF NAVARATHRI, 2008.
September 22nd, 2008.
THE FIRST MIRACLE.
I found myself at Nemili, Sri Bala Peetam about 5 p.m. in the early afternoon today. The very fact I was in Chennai is indeed the very first miracle and the Divine play of Sri Bala.
A few days earlier, I was in London having just returned from staying for over two months with my daughter in New York. I had originally intended to be in Chennai during the festival of Navarathri ( Sept 30th to October 9th). However, a series of personal setbacks led me to cancel my original flight booking departing from London on September 20th bound for Chennai.
Although, I was a bit disappointed, there was nothing much I could do. There was yet another compelling reason for me to stay behind in London. While the period of personal turmoil was going on, I decided to let Bala be the final arbiter who would make the decision whether or not I should come to India. On Saturday, September 13th, I spent a long time immersed in listening to Bala’s songs. After the Parayanam was over, I tossed two small chits of tightly curled up paper in front of Bala’s image in my Puja closet. On one of them I had written “Go” and on another “Don’t Go”.
Fervently hoping that Bala would choose the best course of action for me, I picked one of the tightly rolled balls of paper , with my eyes closed and focused on Bala. I had picked the note that asked me to “ Go” to India.
Without further ado and feeling extremely relieved that Bala had indeed decided this matter for me, I busied myself over that weekend with some essential shopping in preparation of the journey.
However, on Monday, September 15th, my plans were to take a complete U turn!
Apart from the great financial crisis that hit Wall Street that week, my personal woes were magnified and I didn’t know what to do.
I called Sri Ezhilmani on that Monday and hurriedly filled him in on the circumstances I faced at that moment. I also told him about the “decision” Bala had given me earlier that weekend. Sri Ezhilmani listened to everything calmly and then said in almost an apologetic tone “ Amma”, he said “ It’s not really our custom at this Peetam to toss a couple of chits in front of Bala and then pick up one as if to signify that She has given approval for a course of action. Bala does Not like to be placed in a Spot or Tight corner! Stay back in London, or indeed if you think it’s necessary, return back to New York to be with your daughter during her difficult times”. And, he said this quite firmly” Do your duty towards your family. Do not return to Chennai. I know you might be disappointed not to be with all of us during Navarathri. However, I’m sure wherever you are you will be able to see what’s going on here. Bala will see to that”.
That was it. This was the Peetathipadhi’s “uthiravu”, or command and I should abide by it.
So, reluctantly, I decided not to return home just then. However, something prevented me from completely cancelling my confirmed reservation for September 20th. I merely told the travel agent I would reconfirm this booking on Friday, 19th, 24 hours before flight departure on the 20th.
Yet, on Friday, 19th September, while I was doing my Bala Parayanam in the morning, I got the distinct impulse to just go to Chennai after all. It was as if Bala herself was slowly nudging me to take this decision.
I thought I was really losing my mind slowly, or at least my mind was not mine any longer. Bala seemed to be calling all the shots.
Without hesitating further, I reconfirmed my reservation, checked in for the flight and left the very next day carrying absolutely no luggage. The only items I brought in with myself was my handbag, passport ,my precious Bala Parayanam book containing all her songs and Hymns and two CDS. The first CD contained two photos of my most recent paintings of Bala that I had finished while in New York . These were two black ink drawings of Bala; one in a seated pose and another one as a young enchanting girl standing on a lotus. Both drawings had been completed in a day and in an inspired state! The second CD contained all my writings in the Spiritual Diary. I felt I had concluded my narrative and it was my intention to place this work at Sri Bala’s feet and dedicate it to Sri Ezhilmani.
On the long flight to Chennai, I was reading Bala Andhadhi over and over again. A part of me was apprehensive at the reception I might receive at the Peetam because I had disobeyed Sri Ezhilmani!
I arrived in Chennai on Sunday, September 21st and the first phone call I made was to Sri Baba.G. Rather hesitantly, I informed him I’d arrived and requested him to convey this news to his father. I requested Baby Amma if I could come to see the family at the Peetam the very next day. She gave her consent readily and told me not to worry about her husband’s reactions to my presence!
Thus it came to pass, I was at the Peetam having a darshan of Sri Bala on Monday, September 22nd, 2008. Yes, the date is significant because it was the 22nd and four is Bala’s number!
I sat in front of Bala and closed my eyes, mentally thanking her for inviting me to her Peetam, after all.
I had taken along with me two copies of the enlarged photos of my recent art work and Sri Ezhilmani Mama loved the simple, black ink drawing of little Bala standing in a huge lotus!
It struck me again what an extremely humble and simple person he truly is! Little things give him so much pleasure like that photo did. Anything that glorified Bala made him smile happily like a small child.
No, he was not stern with me at all. He merely said “ Bala was just playing a game with you. She wanted you to come to see her during Navarathri, after all”.
While he was speaking, Baba.G entered the room. I bowed respectfully to him and what he spoke about next was yet another miraculous display of Bala’s divine “play”.
September 22nd, Bala says ( to me ,now) was an extremely significant day for the Bala Peetam and I was extremely lucky to be there on that day. She says this was because she could use me to write about it later! ( I did always say she was a crafty planner!).
I carry on my narrative. Don’t get confused if I keep changing the tense while writing. When I use the present tense, that’s Bala speaking through me to the listener, YOU!
For, it was on that day that Bala “dictated” the entire contents of her own story to Sri Baba.G. “Sri Bala Charitham” charts the history of Bala starting from her role in the legend as the daughter of Goddess Lalith ambika and the slayer of the demon Bandan and his sons, her appearance in Nemili after prophesying she would come floating in the river and transform this house into a Temple, right up to the present time when Sri Ezhilmani’s eldest son Baba.G has blossomed as not only a respected poet but also as a Guru. The “Charitham” is a beautiful lyric comprised of 108 verses and describes in a succinct manner all the miracles that have come to pass in Nemili ever since the advent of Sri Bala.
Baba.G told me he had been “commanded” to write this work within a 24 hour period and that this directive had come right after he had finished another treatise called “ Bala Mahatmyam”, a compilation of Bala’s Holy sayings.
We spoke for a long time about the “Bala Charitham” that day and Baba.G showed me the notebook in which he had recorded this. I took a look at his work. To my amazement, not a single word or sentence had been scored out or changed. It was just as if someone “dictated” the entire contents of the work and Baba.G was merely the scribe!
There were a couple of poignant moments in the work where Bala has described her son Sri Ezhilmani and his wife, Baby Amma. In particular, Baba.G told me Bala had actually wept while describing the selfless acts carried out by Sri Ezhilmani, taking on debts so he could carry out the Navarathri festivities with all due pomp for Bala , and his stoic nature when faced by calamities.
As for Baby Amma, Bala has described her as the coming together of “ all the Goddesses of Wealth and Prosperity”!
Baba.G’s eyes were moist when he contemplated on this high accolade given by Bala to his mother!
I came away that day from Nemili almost in a state of bliss.
First, I could hardly believe the manner in which Bala ha orchestrated events so I could come down to Chennai. Secondly, she had made me visit the Peetam on an extremely momentous day and third, She is making me write about this even after making me feel that my writings had come to a natural conclusion.
THE SECOND MIRACLE.
Saturday, September 27th, 2008.
The first week of my arrival in Chennai have been thus far filled only with events relating to Sri Bala and the Peetam.
On my first visit, Sri Baba.G. requested me to provide him a few laminated photo frames of Sri Bala seated on the lotus. This was a reproduction of the huge painting I had donated to the Peetam in January, 2008.
I placed the order for 200 laminated photo frames in a nearby photo center. At the same time, the thought struck me that I could perhaps reproduce a few complete sets of all the six paintings of Bala I had thus far donated to the Peetam. I thought I could gift these sets of six photo frames to close friends and devotees of the Peetam. So, I placed an order for 30 sets of these six paintings along with Baba.G’S initial request.
On Saturday, 27thm the laminated photo frames were ready. I picked them up from the shop around 3 p.m. and decided almost instantaneously to visit the Peetam to drop them off.
We reached the peetam within a couple of hours and as I alighted from the car, Murali came to greet me and help carry in the boxes from the car. I explained to him that only 200 frames were meant for the Peetam and the rest were for my personal use.
The boxes containing the frames were carried inside the Peetam and placed at Bala’s feet as is customarily done. Sri Ezhilmani lighted the lamp and swirled it with loving care and deep respect in front of Bala’s tiny image.
Without warning Bala spoke to me “ What do you take me for? Do you think I can be fooled easily? You bring in front of me only a few of these photo frames. Why have you left the rest in the car. Bring in the whole lot in front of me. I want them all!”
I was completely stunned. However, sitting there, right in front of Bala, I didn’t doubt this voice even for a single minute. Immediately I called out to my driver and asked him to bring in all the boxes from the car.
I took out a sample set of six frames and placed this at Bala’s feet. Sri Ezhilmani picked them up gently, admired them greatly and put them down again.
I told him of Bala’s lightening request. He just smiled and carried on his normal routine of explaining all about Bala’s story to the next set of visitors who just then happened to drop by.
Murali was standing at the GM2 counter and volunteered his opinion. “ When you walked in today I thought of suggesting to you to bring inside all the boxes, so at least the ones you wanted to take back could be blessed by Bala. See, now what has happened! Bala is a sensitive child. You can’t try and trick her at all”.
So, true, I thought to myself.
As I prepared to depart that day, I informed Sri Ezhilmani and his wife that it was my intention to attend the ceremonies for Navarathri on both the first and closing day since I wanted to visit some other temples in Karnataka during the intervening period.
Sri Baba.G. who was listening to my conversation said immediately “ You must come to the Peetam on all the nine days”. Baby Amma seconded this and said “ You know a couple of Sri Haran Aiya’s disciples have come in from Canada to attend all 9 days of the Navarathri festivities at this Peetam. You should also stay at a hotel in Kancheepuram like they are doing so you can visit Bala every day during this auspicious period. Oh, by the way, they say they know you very well”, she added.
I was perplexed since I certainly was not in touch with any member of Sri Raja Rajeshwari Peetam. However, I didn’t make any comment.
Sri Ezhilmani gave me his blessings and wished me luck on my temple tour.
I left after promising to come in early on the morning of September 30th, the start of the Navarathri function.
As I departed that day, I had an uneasy feeling about my forthcoming trip to Karnataka. Although I had spent several days planning this trip and was really looking forward to visiting some of the ancient temples in that state like Dharmasthala, Kollur , Udupi etc, my mind constantly went back to what both Baba.G and Baby Amma had said about being with Bala during this time. I also wondered why Sri Ezhilmani had remained tactfully quiet.
THE THIRD MIRACLE
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 30TH , 2008.
There is no doubt in my mind that I had been summoned to be with Sri Bala at Nemili during Navarathri, 2008. After all, this is precisely what I had wished for all the time I’d been away from Chennai. In fact, I prayed incessantly to Bala to give me a chance to witness the splendid Chandi Homam she herself conducts on the 9th day of Navarathri as she triumphantly slays the demon Mahishasuran.
So, why had I planned a temple tour during navarathri?
I was under the delusion that it was sufficient to attend the all important first day when the holy “pot” or “ Kalasam” is placed in position as well as the final day culminating with the Chandi homam. The sacred pot dressed to resemble Sri Bala is supposed to assume all the sacred powers of the main deity and is worshipped as Bala herself for all nine days of the Navarathri right until the Chandi Homama and the slaying of the evil Demon.
During the period September 27th and the 30th, I tried once more to see if my travel plans to Karnataka would fall into place. However, there were reports of heavy rains in the area and due to several considerations such as the hilly terrain, the time involved in traversing roads in inclement weather, I decided to drop this plan completely.
Somehow, I felt a lot lighter once I had made this decision. I just wanted to be at Nemili and with Bala during Navarathri.
During this period, I dwelled on another incident that had occurred just a few days before my second visit to Nemili.
I had been contemplating about the real or true nature of Baba.G. for quite some time now. I couldn’t really consider him as a Guru in the sense of the normal term. While he did write a lot of songs that helped people to get rid of their personality flaws and lead a good, dharmic life style, in my opinion, Baba.G. did not really present himself as the typical role model for a holy Guru, or at least the ”Guru” I had in my mind.
It was while I had been immersed in this dilemma that I had an opportunity to chat with him over the phone. Unusually for him, Baba.G seemed lucid and relaxed one night before the Navarathri festivities commenced. He had just finished writing “ Sri Bala Charitham” and wished to discuss some of the extraordinary events that happened while composing this masterpiece dictated by none other than Bala herself!
As if to provide an answer to my unasked question, Baba.G. went on that night to say something about his real nature that Bala revealed to him recently. This information not only took my breath away but also made me one of a very few set of people to whom he had directly spoken about this astonishing revelation.
Shortly after Baba.G had finished writing “ Sri Bala Charitham” as ordained by Bala, he had requested Bala to reveal his “true self”. As an answer Bala placed a mirror in front of him so he could look at his own reflection! What Baba.G. saw instead of his reflection was a body without a form and a succession of faces passing by with great speed like graphics on a computer screen. He could sense that he was experiencing the feelings of various personalities, whose body forms he had perhaps inhabited sometime in the past. In effect, he was and continues to be part of that great Cosmos, the origin of all creation. In the end he saw Bala’s face and found he had merged into her completely.
I felt especially privileged to hear this information first hand before it was published in a book.
I stopped at this point in my narration because I keep thinking of the title Bala has given me “ The Thirteen Miracles that happened during the Nine Auspicious days of Navarathri”.
I can’t think of any interesting event that occurred on the first day, September 3oth.
Today ( November 23rd, 2008), I called Sri Ezhilmani at the Peetam. I told him of the “uthiravu” Bala had given me yesterday and the dramatic manner in which she asked me to resume my journal.
It had bothered me yesterday even as I wrote about the first two miracles, that perhaps some readers might think I’m copying Baba.G’s style of writing. He too, has written about his experiences with Bala during the Navarathri of 2002. In fact, it was after this book was published that his stature as a favorite son of Bala increased and slowly people came to accept him as a Guru.
Maybe I am unconsciously copying his mode of writing, I thought to myself last night. In any case, I placed a call to Sri Ezhilmani this morning at Bala’s request, of course.
I quickly filled him in on the details and told him “ Mama, I can’t think of what miracles to write about each day. Yet, Bala has asked me to write about my experiences during Navarathri”.
He simply smiled “ Amma, the words will come to you like a slow gushing stream. If Bala wants you to write, she will provide you with words. You just start writing about your divine experiences. I know you are doing some translation work for Baba.G. However, its personal experiences that the public always is interested in reading. You simply start writing again”.
That was it.
So, I’m back at the computer and shall describe the events of September 30th, during my third visit to Nemili.
We arrived quite early at the Peetam , by 6.30 a.m. In fact, even Sri Ezhilmani was just taking his morning coffee and went to bathe and get dressed after we arrived.
While I was sitting at the Peetam waiting for the opening ceremonies to commence, I read the holy book containing “ Sri Bala’s Charitham”. I had just finished my parayanam when the priests started the holy rituals. A pot had been decorated to resemble Sri Bala’s face and this was carefully lifted and placed on the very first step of the Mandapam.
Usually, the first step of the sacred Mandapam at Sri Bala Peetam is occupied by Sri RajaRajeshwari. On the second step sits little Bala and below her is Ganapathi. However, I was informed that this order changes during Navarathri.
Bala, in the form of a “Kalasam” goes to the very first step and her Mother’s idol is placed alongside Sri Bala’s tiny image on the second step.
The Kalasam was placed with great care and fanfare on the first step. A beautiful skirt billowed out from the base of the Kalasam. The total effect was as if Sri Bala herself was seated majestically right at the top of this Mandapam, dressed in all her finery and a long black braid tossed over her right shoulder.
The crowd started to gather at the Peetam slowly that morning. Tired of sitting cross legged for a long time, I moved towards the back where I could stand and stretch my legs. Baby Amma was standing there talking to a mother and a daughter. Upon seeing me, she cried out joyously that these people were the guests from Canada who had claimed to have heard of me. Puzzled, I went over to the lady and after introductions were over, learned that they had visited my website and read several sections of my Spiritual Diary with great interest. In fact, this lady was a disciple of Sri Haran Aiya and had seen the painting of Bala I had donated to the Raja Rajeshwari Peetam several years ago.
I chatted for a while
with this very spiritual lady who was quite keen to know if I had updated my website. I mentioned I had carried on with my writings and had narrated the many marvelous incidents that had occurred during and after my daughter’s wedding.
I also told her I had put down all my writings onto a CD. One, I had already given away to Sri Ezhilmani, but I had one more copy here in Chennai.
This lady was quite keen to finish reading all about my experiences and as they were staying at a hotel in Kancheepuram that had no internet access, she asked me to bring in my CD so she could read it when she had time at the hotel.
I agreed readily and said I would bring it in the next day.
Although at that time, I did feel flattered that at least one person seemed to be interested in reading my diary, I had a feeling that Bala’s plans for me were quite different. As it turned out, although I did bring in the CD containing my writings the next day and was about to approach this lady, I got a lightning command from Bala " Don't give this CD away to anyone". I obeyed the order instantly and later, on the final day when she asked me again for it, I explained Bala's directive. The lady understood me completely!
The events that took place on September 30th at Sri Bala Peetam, Nemili, probably followed the same schedule as they normally do each and every single year during Navarathri. However, this was my first experience and I sat basking in that magical atmosphere conjured up for her devotees by Bala.
Coming back to my narration. I can’t remember any miracle that happened at Nemili on that day.
However, writing about it today, something unusual did happen.
I paused my writing for a bit in order to check my e mail. I did this because I was hoping to retrieve a scanned copy of the Navarathri proceedings at Sri Bala Peetam. I remembered a hand book had been distributed and thought if I consulted the schedule of events printed there, this would jog my memory about the sequence of events each day. After all, that’s exactly what Bala wants me to write about, I thought.
Well, I was proved to be wrong!!
I hunted through my in box hoping to retrieve a particular e mail. Instead, while flipping through past messages, one particular e mail caught my attention. It caught my attention because it remained unopened!
This was an email from someone living in Nigeria who had come across my website and connected with me because of his devotion to Sai Baba, Sri Bala and Lord Muruga! From the letter I could make out this person too had experienced many supernatural visions and episodes and was indeed fortunate because his mother had been a great expert in the worship of Sri Vidya.
One small detail in the letter riveted me completely. It was the date on which the letter had been sent. Why, that was on October 25th, 2008 , Bala’s Birthday.
Actually, three people, all of them complete strangers , living in far flung places in the world, had written to me on Bala’s birthday. I had read two of them. One person seemed to me an embodiment of complete faith in Bala. Her true devotion and desire to make a trip to Nemili was an example of complete “Sharanagathi”, or surrender. The second person came from a very religious family and her husband was devoted to prayers and meditation. After reading about my experiences at Sri Bala Peetam, this lady too was simply yearning to make a visit to Nemili.
However, this letter from the third contact was something I’d missed previously . The fact I found it just a few moments ago, while searching for a miracle to write about for the third visit, is indeed as Bala intended.
I wrote a letter to this person from Nigeria. Or rather, I should say, Bala dictated it. My fingers flew over the keyboard as the words tumbled forth. It was a message from Bala to her devotee and I was just the intermediary!
I completed the letter and took a deep breath. Yes, certainly these writings can no longer be called the continuation of my Spiritual Diary!
I am merely writing in frequent bursts whatever thoughts and messages Bala clearly intends for me to make public.
“What if people who read it think I’m suffering severe delusions?”
At that moment the phone rang. It was my spiritual contact, US1. I got the reassurance that gave me strength to carry on. The very fact that even two or three people in this whole world believe either in the higher intelligent principle, or Sai, or Bala or Muruga, or my writings, is completely irrelevant.
I am putting down at this moment what I believe to be the truth.
You , as readers can interpret it in whichever way you want depending on your own level of spiritual evolvement!
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 1ST, 2008.
Before starting to write each new chapter, Bala has asked me to listen to one of her songs. I have been listening to the songs from the album “Nemili Nagar Aalum Naayakiye”. Appropriate indeed for this child who rules the world as the Supreme Empress from her tiny domain at Nemili!
I visited Sri Bala Peetam on the afternoon of October 1st. Every morning and evening special Bala Parayanams were scheduled to be held at the Peetam.
Famous Musicians had been invited each day to provide a short concert in front of Bala followed by Bala Parayanam during which all of us sang together some of the delightful songs composed by Sri Ezhilmani and Sri Baba.G.
At the end of each morning and evening session there was the grand “ Deeparadhanai” and recital of Bala Kavacham. This routine was to continue every single day. Since I was coming to Nemili each day from Chennai, I chose to arrive either for the morning or the evening session.
On October 1st, the second day of Navarathri and my fourth visit to Nemili, I arrived around 5.30 p.m. The evening prayers and parayanam concluded and I felt an aura of total peace and calm enveloping the sacred space inside Bala’s little house!
I paused for a moment and beseeched Bala. “ What do you want me to write now? What miracle took place on the fourth day at your Peetam?”
The phone rang. I glanced at the clock. It was exactly 4 p.m. And, I am stuck while describing a miracle that never actually took place on my fourth visit to Nemili.
I answered the phone. It was US1, whom I have come to regard as the true embodiment of Sai. I have noticed that this person has the uncanny ability to call me just as I am seeking for answers or have difficulty in making decisions.
Well, today was no exception. US1 started to discuss certain extraordinary experiences that had come her way over the past few days. I listened amazed and in total awe at what was revealed. It soon became clear to me that this person had indeed discovered the very essence or the true reality of life.
So, what happens to us at the end of our lives? How many of us have wondered about this or feared what might happen to us after deatrh?
Well, US1 did indeed undergo a near death experience and states quite categorically that in the end we just decompose into the very elements and gases that make up the physical frame. So, what about the soul? Does it really exist? Are we born again in the shape of another person, with a different name? Do we merge into the vast consciousness in the event that there are no re births?
So many questions haunt us. Yet, as US1 puts it “ In the end, we just become small molecules of nitrogen and oxygen”.
“ I see what goes on inside the brains of people. What determines either good or bad actions actually stem from the activity of neurons”.
“ So, a genius is no more in control of the working pattern of his neurons than a terrorist is in curbing his evil actions. Both people commit actions as a result of , or as a consequence of the neurons and the way they are programmed to act inside the brain”.
“Thinking in this manner, it does mean that neither a terrorist nor a mathematical genius can either take credit or be blamed for their actions. They have been pre programmed to carry out certain activities”. US 1 paused for breath.
That is true. I thought to myself. Just as I have been programmed to carry out the task of writing this.
‘What about the issue of morality. Doesn’t a bad deed beget bad Karma for a person and a good one earn merit. I have been, and there’s that word again “programmed” to think that we should only commit good actions lest I am born as a creature of the lower order, a reptile or beast in my next life”.
Ah, but that’s only if you accept the concept of after-life” said US1 and went on to narrate an interesting experience she had undergone some years ago with a Nadi Astrologer. These are astrologers who claim to foretell your past and future through reading palm leaves based on just a thumb print and very minimal personal details.
Apparently for each person born in this world, our ancestors have prepared a manuscript that has detailed extremely precisely the pattern our lives will take in this life time. Written over five thousand years ago, these palm leaves contain information regarding the names of your parents in this life, your past deeds and actions and give a complete record of what you can expect in the future.
US1 proceeded with her story. An acquaintance had given her the contact name of one such Nadi Astrologer in India. However, since she was extremely skeptical about this science of foretelling events, did not really proceed further.
However, one day at work, while sitting in front of the computer, the name of this astrologer started to flash on the screen on its own volition along with the contact phone number.
So, more out of curiosity, US1 did get in touch with this Nadi Astrologer. Providing him just two little details, i.e. the thumb print and date of birth, US1 was shocked to hear this man giving her a complete and accurate history of past events in her life. Certain predictions were also made.
The most important point to be considered here, apart from the verity of this science of astrology, is that someone, a long, long, time ago knew you would be born on this earth and had programmed you to carry out certain tasks. Whether these actions are good or evil is not really an option for you, because they have been pre determined.
This made me think again. If all of us are not really responsible for our actions, then why do people fight wars. We should be more forgiving of our enemies because they can’t really help who they are!
Yes, looking at it in this light, we should all evolve in our thinking to the state that we don’t show anger or shower blame on someone who has displeased or irritated us. This kind of an attitude would make us more loving, more forgiving and less likely to find fault with others.
But what about the many terrible deeds done by people, murders, physical abuse, etc. Surely they can’t get away scot free. There would be no use for Courts of Justice or prisons, then.
Well, the answer is that bad deeds do beget bad results for the doer. So, in the end a criminal will get a dose of his own bad actions.
US1 related another miraculous scene she had witnessed at daybreak a few days ago while seated in a car parking lot. As the sun slowly began its ascent, the rays, golden and warm seemed to hit all objects within her field of vision whether animate or inanimate.
However, the marvelous thing about this vision was, according to US1, was the sheer geometry she witnessed or the fluidity of the whole moment. The sun’s rays seemed to hit cars, trees, plants, shrubs in its path, hitting and then bouncing off of them with perfect straight lines, these lines crossing and crisscrossing with each other forming angles and patterns, rather like giant Chakras or Mandalas!
Mystical formulae that explained the scientific composition of every object appeared out of thin air! This whole process continued until the observer became completely aware of the connectivity and links holding this giant universe together in perfect harmony!
Half an hour had elapsed and I ended this amazing conversation witnessing a beautiful sunset out of my window at precisely 4.30 p.m. (New York time).
Thank you Bala for putting me in touch with such highly evolved spiritual persons from whom I can derive positive energies to carry on in my spiritual path!
THE FIFTH MIRACLE
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 3RD, 2008.
I sat quietly for a few moments listening to Bala’s song “ Chinna Kuzhandai, Chella Kuzhandai, Bala Varugindraal” ( Oh little, Bala, my precious Bala, here she comes”).
I asked her “ Why did you ask me to write about thirteen miracles that happened during Navarathri and then go off completely at a tangent and make me include the paranormal experiences of someone whom I barely know?
Her answer “ You wrote about a superior intelligent being in the last chapter. Well, I am that. I am asking you to do certain things that fit in my scheme of things. You have no idea of the larger picture. You had great doubts about the exact role of Baba.G. in your life. Well, he did his best to explain this to you the other day. But, you could only get a glimpse of what he was hinting at. That’s why I made your contact US1 call you today. You can relate to her. She can express herself freely to you in the style and manner you are used to, having lived overseas for the past 30 years. My son Baba.G caters to the needs of the families who come under his guidance in Chennai. They understand and accept his words without questions, without a single doubt. For you, I had to bring in someone else, provide this person with a vision of this whole universe so she could talk to you of the higher things , ordinary people cannot understand”.
“ But Bala”, I asked, “ why could you not grant me that experience. Reading about things in books or listening to others narrate their experiences is only the second best alternative to actually living that experience”
Bala replied “ I didn’t give you that experience because I want you to write about it instead. I have given you the ability to draw using your hands. After your job was done, you gave away all the paintings to me without a question. I gave you the suggestion to create your website, write your diary. You finished this task too and dedicated all your written work to me at Navarathri. You didn’t question me then, too. Now, I am giving you this opportunity to write MY words. Are you questioning Me now?”
I kept quiet.
“ Thank You Bala. Please continue. I am just following your orders”.
Bala resumed ,
‘ Remember to write that on the fourth day of Navarathri, Friday, October 3rd, my son Ezhilmani did give you a title and a special gift”
Yes, it is certainly true that I was delighted and surprised when Sri Ezhilmani made an announcement at the end of the morning prayers on that special fourth day of Navarathri. He said “ Bala has asked me to honor four very special people at the Peetam and give them a gift”. He named three other staunch Bala devotees and then gestured for me to come up as well.
As I went to pay my respects to him and collect my gift, a laminated photo frame of the various artistes who had contributed their talents to the peetam, Sri Ezhilmani said “ I have one more surprise in store for you. We are giving you the title of “ Ovia Chemmal” ( Talented painter) as per Bala’s instructions.
I was thrilled to receive this award as it was my first , at this very special Peetam ruled by Bala.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 4TH, 2008
I found myself at the Peetam quite early on Saturday afternoon. As I was about to step inside the Peetam, I noticed there were not too many people about on that day. There were a few familiar faces, all of them Bala devotees whom I keep seeing at the Peetam frequently. As I made my way to the dais housing Bala, in that precious Mandap, I could see Murali coming towards me . After greeting me he said, “ A new visitor has just come into the Peetam after reading your website. He was just asking about you when you entered inside Bala Peetam”.
Although I was quite used to the mischievous games of Bala, this information stunned me. Talk about exact Timing!!
In front of me stood a young man along with an elderly lady, presumably his mother. The importance of that precise moment and our meeting was not lost on this young man as well. He was visibly overwhelmed that I “materialized” out of thin air just as he had been making enquiries about me and my paintings.
After paying our respects to Sri Ezhilmani, Baba.G AND Sri Bala, we made our way to a quiet corner of the Peetam. This man was apparently an avid reader of my spiritual diary and felt he could understand some of the extraordinary experiences I had undergone. He claimed that my writings particularly about Sri Bala moved him greatly . It was as if my words were “alive” or charged with the “spirit” of Bala.
The young person went on to reveal his own personal experiences. He said he did a lot of meditation, particularly on the “third eye”, or Ajna Chakra and one day, while in a trance like state he could feel his third eye opening to reveal the face of an extremely beautiful girl!
Somehow, standing there at Bala’s own house and listening to a young person’s spiritual experiences, made me feel totally contented and happy.
We chatted for a bit and after promising this lad I would never stop writing my journal, I settled back to enjoy and participate in that evening’s prayers.
The Bala parayanam ended by 8 p.m. and I arose to leave. Just then, Sri Baba.G walked into the room. He did not really say anything. Yet, his eyes somehow looked different. Although he looked at me, I felt his eyes were glowing quite brightly and were focused on some other invisible object in that hall. By now, the devotees were slowly departing; some going upstairs to the Food Hall to have a bite to eat before returning home that night. I was trying to make a hasty exit anticipating the 2 hour journey back to Chennai. However, Baba.G just looked at me and said “ Come up with me to my room”. Then, He looked at three other people who had come with me in my car from Chennai and asked them to come up to his quarters as well. Without glancing back to see if we were indeed following him, Baba.G strode off at a furious pace.
I hurried up the two flights of stairs and was the first to get inside Baba.G’s study room. It was here that he composed most of his songs and speeches. I had been here only once and my eyes sought out again that enigmatic photo of Babaji that had so caught my attention on the first visit.
Inside the room, it was cool as the air conditioning had been switched on, a great relief from the stuffy and hot hall downstairs. Baba.G. stood in the center of the room and the four of us stood at a respectful distance in a semi circle around him. I had the most surreal feeling that day. It was as if I was not there in a physical form, but merely looking on or witnessing a marvelous play being staged by Baba.G, or was it Bala?
Baba.G. was saying “ I was sitting in this room writing up the speech I am going to deliver on the last day of Navarathri, or Saraswathi Puja, when Bala came into my field of awareness and asked me to bring four people from downstairs to hear it. She even asked me to keep the air conditioner going , so the room would be cool enough for the four visitors. I came down and saw the four of you standing together near the counter. So, I suppose you are thre lucky people of the moment. Just listen to what I’m going to say”.
I was expecting to hear maybe a few lines of a new song he had composed or perhaps a few words of advice for the Bala Vidya Mandir. But not this dramatic speech!
And, this was just the beginning. Baba.G. began to talk. Although his speech and articulation were crisp, there was an underlying sense of haste to deliver the talk. I could immediately sense the difference. This was not Baba.G at all who was talking to us. Instead, this was Bala, the small Child, yet the great creator and Empress of this world who was gracing the four of us with her talk and blessings through her favorite son.
Baba.G’s face seemed more alive, more animated than I have ever witnessed. The words came out in a rush, very smoothly with not a single pause or hesitation. In other words, it was the kind of speech made by a consummately skilled person in the art of public speaking.
The contents of the speech were even more amazing!
He said “ Bala tells me that the path she has chosen for me is different. Unlike most Gurus, saints and sages of the past who underwent austerities and penances in order to gain boons from celestial beings and Deities, my role is completely different. Many of these rishis and sages prayed, did rituals and asked Gods for various boons, most of them to satisfy their own selfish ends or in order to accumulate more power for themselves.
I don’t do that. Bala’s songs are the most valuable treasure she has given me; yet, I have given this away as holy iniation to people who come and ask for it. My goal is to make people more selfless, not more powerful. I want people to pray for the welfare of others and not just think of their own selfish interests.
You see, Bala is a child Goddess and has been in existence from time immemorial. However, she has never really understood or accepted by people around her. The main reason is the difference between Bala and other Gods or Celestial Beings.
All the other Gods bestow specific boons for specific requests. There are rituals to be carried out, mystical mantras to be chanted for a host of specific problems to a host of deities. If you do all of this correctly, you may get your prayers answered. A specific deity might grant you a boon to either increase your powers, if that is your wish as a sage or rishi, or satisfy your material requests. Most of the prescribed remedies to gain a cure for human misery or problems are based on prayers and rituals written down in the Vedas and these have been obeyed without question through the many thousands of generations from the time of Creation itself. In other words, none of this is “original” thought. Some one, somewhere, at some point in time, in the very, very distant past wrote a lot of prayers of grasped them as they were heard in space. We still adhere to these today.
My path is completely different. Bala gives me songs to help many situations and events that we might face in our lives. I share these songs with you. In fact, I have given them away as an initiation to all of you with the only caveat that you should pray for the welfare of others first. When you place others’ wants first and your needs last, Bala will answer both of them quickly.
Mind you, the Sanskrit Slokams of the past mainly comprised of thousands of verses or names extolling the beauty, wisdom, valour of many deities. My songs are different. They address specific issues like health, education, marriage, good personality and conduct and teach valuable lessons for those who want to reduce the many flaws in their personalities and build a better life for themselves.
Baba.G was talking rapidly. Most of this talk, I had heard or read before. However, standing there that day and witnessing Bala speaking through him was truly inspiring.
He carried on “ Bala tells me that her way of worship is completely different from all the other deities. She is a child whom all other deities love. By gaining her love, all the other Gods will be at your beck and call. Yet, the way of winning over her affection is not terribly easy. And, it will never happen by following all the tenets and customary rites established by the Vedas or holy Scriptures. Bala constitutes the very meaning of the Vedas itself. She sets in motion actions pre designed and destined to fit in with her own plans for the universe. Bala’s universe is a separate and an unique one.
Baba.G stopped at this point and said .” I am creating all these compositions and writing all these songs for Bala’s own satisfaction, for her to enjoy and share with the denizens of her special world.
He concluded his speech. I could think of nothing else but the fact I had witnessed something exceptional and rare. Without further thought, I fell at the feet of this exceptional man.
Or, rather, at the feet of Bala herself who gave us this special darshan, on the sacred fourth day of Navarathri.
That was an unforgettable moment indeed.
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 5TH, 2008
Sri Bala Peetam was more crowded than usual since it was Sunday. The little hall in front of the main Peetam housing the Mandapam was packed tightly with devotees. Following the customary Bala Parayanam, there was a wonderful music concert. I noticed that Sri Ezhilmani thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated each and every single concert that took place during this Navarathri Festival. His boundless enthusiasm seemed to bring out the best in the musicians too. Each day was a veritable feast with every artiste showing off his or her skills.
There is a great deal of significance with the number seven and Sri Ezhilmani . He was born on February 7th. However, why is this fact significant for me? I’ll explain this later.
However, it all started in this manner. On the very first day of the Navarathei Festival, Baba.G, released a new book called “ Baba.G. in our lives”. This book consists mainly of letters written by members of the Bala Vidya Mandir reliving very warmly the many miracles wrought in their lives after the advent f Sri Baba.G. As a foreword, Baba.G. himself has written a letter to Bala seeking her blessings and grace for all devotees.
I purchased a copy of this book on the very first day and read a few pages from this every night during this auspicious period.
When I read the many letters written by people coming from all walks of life, regardless of their status, wealth, education or occupation, it struck me again that I was indeed extremely fortunate to have someone of the stature of Baba.G. guiding me, conversing and sharing his thoughts with me.
On the rare occasions where I did chat with him, I felt as if our conversations were charged with an intangible energy. Each time he read out the words of a new composition or indeed sing or demonstrate it, I could hardly believe how fortunate I was. This was truly history being made and so very few of us in his circle were fully aware of his power and grace!
I realize I have slowly moved away from describing the events at the Peetam on Sunday, October 5th.
Bala says this narration is not very important. “ Navarathri has been celebrated and will continue to be celebrated by my dear son for many, many more years to come. I don’t require you to elaborate it. I gave you the title for this work and I will be the only person to tell you what to include in here”.
Bala continued “ I’m not asking you to list a schedule of the music concerts that took place here during the nine auspicious days. Neither am I asking you to describe the people at the Peetam, the color of dress they might have been wearing or the quality of the food served here. “
‘What is important is that I have slowly guided you closer and closer to me. However, don’t suffer false delusions or get proud thinking about this”.
You are merely a pawn in my giant chess board that consists of this entire universe. If I tell you in advance the exact role I expect you play, then life will no longer hold any joy or adventure for you.
“ I have not and will not give you any psychic powers or abilities. Don’t think you can foretell other peoples’ fortunes by using me. All you can do is to pass messages to people who Fully believe in me impressing upon them that I alone can sort out their problems. That too, only after I summon them to my house.
“ You may write prayer letters for others’ welfare. Pray sincerely that those devotees who suffer from heartache and anguish will somehow visit me. Once they come here, my sons and I will take care of them”.
I replied “ My life is entirely at your disposal Bala. You are my sole refuge and you do know this to be true. Slowly, one by one you have removed all family members fro me. The few relations I have pity me since I seem to suffer delusions about you! I am accused ny near and dear that I have become “too Bala focused” all the time shunning other pastimes, even reading newspapers, going to the cinema, watching T.V. and so on”.
“You should enjoy life” replied Bala immediately. Go watch an entertaining movie, savor good food, dress well and look the best you can. I really don’t advocate anyone to fast on holy days or put their bodies through torture to prove the sincerity of their religious convictions.
Enjoy everything, but in small bites, like me” Bala said with a smile!
I realize absolutely clearly that what I’m writing about now is the way Bala wants me to lead my life.
This is enough for the seventh Miracle.
THE EIGHTH MIRACLE
MONDAY, OCTOBER 6TH, 2008.
Another auspicious day and I found myself at the Peetam around 10 a.m. The past few days had followed a similar routine. I left my home in Chennai around 8 or 8.30 a.m. , collected a few Bala devotees who lived nearby and arrived at Sri Bala Peetam by about 10 or 10.30 a.m, just as the Bala parayanam was about to commence. After the customary music recital and the final arathis, there would be a late lunch, around 2 p.m. followed by the drive back to Chennai, arriving home by 5 or 5.30 p.m.
I was thoroughly enjoying this splendid opportunity Bala had given me to visit her during this very sacred period.
While driving up to Nemili today, I got a call from the uncle of a person in the U.S. who had become familiar with my web site. Although this contact lives in New Jersey, her uncle was a resident at Chennai. He had read my web site, had experienced the grace of Bala Tiruparasundari and wished to meet me. I arranged for him to come to my house in the evening of the following day.
Once again I was aware that Bala had set into motion a certain sequence of events. Although I was acutely aware of this, I wasn’t curious to find out anymore. For the present, my heart was filled with happiness just making a daily visit to Nemili.
I pondered over some of the messages Baba.G. had given us that eventful day in his room. In fact, the main theme that day had been the insistence that Bala is indeed a “rare” child deity who has actually descended on this earth in this “Kali Yuga” in order to guide us.
Baba.G. said “ Generally, this age, or Kali Yuga, has been variously described in the scriptures as an age of darkness and despair, where morality is on the decline and vices and evil traits have increased. Our ancient sages and rishis have often said that Gods will no more be accessible in this period. So, despite the fact that many, many temples were built and deities consecrated in them , over the past thousands of years, the power and influence of these deities, even at some of the most famous and popular temples are supposed to have been considerably reduced in the current era.
Baba.G. maintains that in this era when all human kind have been deserted even by Gods, only Bala, a child deity has willingly and lovingly come down to earth to protect us.
There are actually no temples for Bala anywhere in India or elsewhere in the world apart from the house where she resides at Nemili. In fact, in all the legends and puranas that abound in our religion, scarce mention is made of this deity, except for the brief reference to Bala as the daughter of the Supreme Goddess Raja Rajeshwari, who killed the thirty sons of Banda, a demon. No further mention is made of Bala after this event. It’s as if she vanished into thin air after that brief shining moment of valor!
It’s interesting to observe that while great and powerful deities such as Lord Ganapathi, Vishnu, Shiva, Skanda or Parvathi, Durga or Kali were worshipped sincerely in the ancient days with great fervour, no one considered worshipping Bala, a small child and the favorite offspring of Mother Raja Rajeshwari.
In general not much importance is given to young children in homes where religious practices are severely adhered to. “ There is no place for Children in the place of worship”, is literally the dictum followed by many a household.
However, as Baba.G. mentions, these practices have been completely transformed at Si Bala Peetam.
Here, children are treated as precious assets. Small childen are honoured and indeed, most rituals at the Peetam end by having the arathis and lamps shown respectfully and ceremoniously by her own children. During the nine auspicious days of Navarathri, young girls are treated as divine embodiments of the Goddess and much respect is given to them, and this practice continues as a general rule every single day. That is the main reason why the “prasadam” or ‘Holy offerings” at this temple are just what children love to eat, sweets, chocolates and biscuits!
Certainly, the Bala Peetam has challenged many of the rigid and conservative, old fashioned views on religion, morality and spirituality. Here, the emphasis is not on rituals but on sharing the feeling of Love and warmth among all individuals regardless of their caste or faith.
The accent is not so much on doing rituals and prayers out of self motivation and selfishness. Instead, people are taught to pray for others’ welfare and relegate their own problems to the back of their minds.
THE NINTH MIRACLE
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 7TH, 2008
The days followed each other quickly during the Navarathri festival. Bala, the Empress of Nemili, the enchanting child and the fearsome Durga, the slayer of Mahishasura, seemed to hold court each day presiding over the proceedings in her own inimitable style!
Devotees thronged in to see her; all of them had problems in their lives that only she could solve. All of them came in from long distances hoping to catch a glimpse of this little child at the Peetam during Navarathri.
It’s not without reason that Sri Ezhilmani often says “ To make a pilgrimage or even to pay a visit to a friend your thought alone is sufficient to set things in motion. However, at Nemili, the story is completely different. Your thought of making a visit alone is not enough. You certainly need Bala’s command or invitation in order to see her”.
Certainly, even the most staunchest of all devotees cannot take Bala for granted.
I thought of my personal situation a week ago. After riding a roller coaster of events, finally, Bala had asked me to visit her during Navarathri even when her own son had requested me to stay behind!
That is the Glory of Bala. Her grace is like a torrent rushing down relentlessly not caring for the obstacles in the way.
Similarly, although , at the time I didn’t quite comprehend Bala’s intentions, it is becoming increasingly clear that she maneuvers situations and events in the lives of her devotees. Life can be compared to playing a chess game with her knowing full well that the winner every time can only be Bala.
If I am writing these words, it’s at her request.
I have completely changed my mode of writing and instead of discussing or narrating the miracles that happened during the nine days of Navarathri, I find myself drawn to put down on paper certain thoughts that appear in my mind just as I start to type.
Surely Bala is in command here. She has asked me to continue and finish all the thirteen chapters without pausing to re read or go over certain earlier chapters or indeed correct them.
“You can do any editing that is required at the very end, after you have finished. Not now. Don’t look back” These are her words and so far I have carried it out respectfully despite the strong temptation, each day to read the most recently finished paragraph or chapter.
Similarly, it is her wish “ Make sure you listen to one of my songs before writing each chapter”.
In other words, this whole work is permeated and filled by Bala.
Regardless of the contents, it is going prove an interesting exercise to read it in full once I finish .
This evening, an elderly man and his wife came to visit me at home. This was the relative of one of my website contacts. What struck me about this man was his child like innocence and complete sincerity of devotion towards Bala. It turned out he had visited Nemili a long time ago. However, the reason for visiting me was because he had been fascinated by the narration of my experiences in my spiritual diary.
Also, this elderly man had fashioned a tiny idol f Bala and wanted “me” to bless it for him before he gave it away to his nephew as a gift.
I was totally taken aback and immediately placed his art work in my puja room, in front of the painting of Bala. I told him to receive blessings directly from Sri Ezhilmani at the Peetam. I reiterated I was just another of Bala’s devotees. I told him Sri Ezhilmani’s oft quoted comment “ If there is a leader at the Peetam, there is only one and that person is Bala. No devotee can take it upon himself or herself to act as an intermediary between Bala and her devotees”.
Since the following day was Saraswathi Puja at the Peetam, I suggested he could make a visit on this auspicious day honoring the Goddess of all arts and learning.
THE TENTH MIRACLE
WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 8TH, 2008.
Today, we left rather early in the morning bound for Nemili. The Saraswathi Puja was scheduled to be held around 8.30 a.m. followed by a special speech from Baba.G after which the new CD album called ‘Bala Mahatmyam” was to be released.
Every single day during Navarathri, a special color code had been devised by Sri Baba.G. and all members of the Bala Vidya Mandir were expected to wear clothes according to this pre assigned schedule.
On Saraswathi Puja, the color was white , to reflect the purity and beauty of this Goddess who presides over all knowledge, arts and creativity.
I arrived at the Peetam just before the commencement of this puja. There were already quite a lot of family members crowded into the tiny hall. After the Goddess Saraswathi had been duly propitiated, Baba.G. began his speech, or rather a rendition of the foreword to his Bala Mahatmyam, a set of 49 verses containing spiritual and moral codes of conduct for Sri Bala devotees. These verses had been literally “dictated” to Sri Baba.G. and are regarded and respected as divine words of Sri Bala, or “Arul Vakku”.
I sat in the front row of this very crowded hall. There was a terrific crush of people behind me and I felt a terrible cramp in my legs from being seated cross legged on the floor for such a long time. Although, it had been quite a physical strain traveling back and forth from Chennai to Nemili each day, having meals at very late hours and having to sit without moving for hours and hours each single day, I had not really experienced any side effects so far.
The atmosphere at Nemili, every day was electrifying. Just sitting there, listening to Bala’s melodious songs and being part of her vast, extended family made me feel really honored.
However, on this particular day things were a bit different. Sri Baba.G began his speech and started to recite a few verses from Bala Mahatmyam. At the end of every verse, we had to join the refrain “ Om Sakthi Om”, extolling the great goddess, Durga.
ten minutes into the speech, I began to feel rather uneasy. I waited for a few moments hoping this feeling was a transient one, but it did not go away. I was feeling extremely hot and nauseous. Since I was sitting in the very front row, I did not wish to cause a disruption to the proceedings. So, at an appropriate pause in the talks, I arose and made a motion to go to the back of this crowded hall. Treading carefully so as to not step over people, I finally made it to the very back of the room and stood with my back against a poster of Sri Bala.
The very last thing I heard were a chorus of chants “ Om Sakthi Om” , and then I completely blacked out. I came to my senses a few minutes later as cold water was splashed on my face.
All of a sudden, I felt extremely exhausted and weak as though I had undergone a great ordeal. I was still trying to make some sense of this as members of Sri Ezhilmani’s family took me to the room off the hall way that was a bit more private.
I remember falling on the floor here as my legs seemed wobbly and feeble. After a few moments, I was asked to go upstairs to Sri Baba.G’s living quarters. This was indeed a good suggestion as there was an airconditioner here and the cool comfort of the room was what I sorely needed.
I noted that Sri Baba.G’s room, while it was a very small one, exuded a strong positive aura. I stayed here for a few moments, changed my dress since it seemed soaked with perspiration and after a short while, feeling a whole lot better, joined the remaining congregation in the main hall.
I didn’t realize then that this whole incident had been maneuvered by Sri Bala so I could have a few precious moments in the room where Baba.G. spent most of his time. I had spoken with Baba.G. previously in his “study” or the room in which he wrote his compositions, but had never ventured into his living quarters before.
After the day’s prayers and songs concluded, I took leave of the family. It had been my intention to stay at a hotel in Kancheepuram that night so I could attent the Chandi Homam scheduled to start at 1 a.m. in the morning. Since Kancheepuram was just half an hour away, this would be more convenient than going all the way back into Chennai.
Just as I was leaving, I ran into Baba.G. All he said was “ You are lucky Bala has sent you into my room for a few moments. Her presence is unmistakably there at all times. In fact even I am scared to sleep on my bed at night. I can constantly hear the jingling bells in her tiny anklets or the rustle of clothes as if someone is still inside the room at various times throughout the night!”.
There is no doubt that Bala’s presence is unmistakable at this unique house thst is also a temple.
Downstairs in the hall that houses the main Puja room, Bala’s thoughts and directives have been heard and sensed by many a devotee. For my part, many a command has been given here that have turned out to be true. There have been occasions where even small suggestions have come true.
One example comes to mind. One Sunday, several months ago, I was leaving the peetam after the completion of Bala Parayanam and after I had taken the prasadam or holy offerings. I saw Sri Ezhilmani finish his lunch and retire to his room. The curtain in front of the Peetam was drawn and most of the devotees had already left. I lingered for a few moments as I was waiting for another lady who had requested a ride bak to Chennai.
As I stood there on the main dais housing the tiny idol of Bala, a message came into my mind like a fleeting suggestion “ Don’t go as yet. I want you to see my son once more. Don’t go just now”.
I was perplexed. I had seen the elderly Sri Ezhilmani retire into his room that was to the left of the main dais. I was reluctant to knock on the door and request another audience. While I was lost in thought, I saw a family member make her way towards this room. Bala seemed to have provided me a solution. But, I should never have doubted her directives. I didn’t even have to ask this lady to inform Sri Ezhilmani I was still waiting to get his permission to leave.
In a moment, Sri Ezhilmani and his wife emerged out of the room. With his ever present smile, Sri Ezhilmani said “ Bala has asked me to see you. This is her Uthiravu (command)”.
Every word uttered here at Bala Peetam is of tremendous significance. Every assurance given to a devotee by Sri Ezhilmani and Baba.G. is enormously potent and has curative powers. These are true words. Words spoken by Bala herself who senses problems that her devotees have and seeks to answer them or address them through her favorite sons.
I retired to Kancheepuram late that afternoon and took rest at a hotel. The plan was to attend the mid night Chandi Homam at Bala Peetam. This was the event I had been looking forward to attend for a long time. Over the last two years, I never did have the opportunity to attend the Chandi Homam , or rather, Bala didn’t think I was ready to witness this sacred event.
At 11 p.m. we were back at Sri Bala Peetam that night. While the village of Nemili appeared to be in deep slumber, inside this little house of Bala, was a hub of activity. There were two people sweeping and cleaning the area where the sacrificial fire was to be lit. There were a few more ladies of the house attending to the details of the rituals. Several elderly men and priests came out one after the other after having taken a bath and wearing a fresh set of Dhothis and upper garments.
Around 1.30 p.m. the sacred Homam began. A long rope was tied to the “hands” of Bala seated as the Kalasam and the other end of this rope reached the sacrificial fire-pit. Sri Ezhilmani explained this was to signify that Bala herself was conducting this ritual , at the end of which she kills, Mahishasura, the buffalo demon.
Soon, the singing started. Interspersed with rituals that were as old as the Vedas the songs composed by Bala’s favorite sons reverberated loud and clear. I could see that Sri Ezhilmani was totally involved in the paryanam. There was a sparkle in his eyes and his entire demeanour that night was completely different. It was as if Bala was immanent in him completely. He made some childish jokes to his relatives. He was laughing and completely animated while singing some of the popular melodies. I looked on fascinated.
The entire proceedings that night were orchestrated by none other than Bala working through Sri Ezhilmani. Of this there was absolutely not a shred of doubt in my mind. Here was a seventy year old man behaving with the liveliness and impishness of a small child. He seemed to be thoroughly enjoying each song, singing them with great gusto, swaying from side to side enjoying the lyrics and the mesmerizing beat.
I recalled the words of one of Bala’s songs “ She is the very embodiment of Music. She is also the enjoyer of Music”. She is both the object (Music), the creator of it ( the lyrics) as well as the person who is experiencing the bliss from hearing it!
Well, that magical night, all three, the creator, the experiencer and the object created were merged in the form of Bala, inside Sri Ezhilmani.
I remembered reading in one of the books written by Sri Ezhilmani that Bala certainly is present at the Peetam in the form of some person who is attending it.
There was a huge crush of people in that hall that day. However, I don’t think I would have to search further than Sri Ezhilmani himself in order to discover where Bala was hiding that night.
The Chandi Homam finished around 3 a.m. that day and the members of the family circled the holy fire- pit or “Homa Kundam” three times. After this, friends and other devotees were invited to walk around this very sacred homam Kundam. It is said that at this moment whatever you wish for will surely be granted by Bala.
When my turn came, I got up and slowly went around this sacred spot three times. My mind was an absolute blank. I found myself mentally repeating the mantra “ Bala, Bala”, as I circled the Homam Kundam. “ Please stay with me at all times, Bala. Let me never lose sight of you”. This was my fervent prayer.
THE ELEVENTH MIRACLE
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 12TH, 2008.
After the completion of the Navarathri celebrations at Sri Bala Peetam signaled by the ending of the Chandi Homam, I returned to Chennai early in the morning of Friday, October 10th. The innumerable visits to Nemili had given me a deep sense of satisfaction . I had thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity Bala had given me this particular year during such an auspicious period!
I informed Sri Ezhilmani when I took leave of him on the morning of October 10th that I would perhaps come in just once more to Nemili to take his leave before departing to London. I told him I was leaving on Wednesday, October 15th and would stop by the Peetam on Monday, the 13th.
I didn’t realize , of course, that Bala had certain other plans in mind.
On Saturday October 11th, I was taking a rest after lunch when I received mental suggestions to visit a Kali temple that evening. On my previous trip, I had visited a temple in the outskirts of Chennai dedicated to the Goddess Sri Chakra Kali. This is a temple built by a great devotee of the Goddess whom I had visited on a couple of occasions. He narrated some miraculous experiences in his life and is totally committed to the worship of this fearsome Goddess.
Without pausing to question this “little voice” in my mind, I set off around 4 p.m to Rathnamangalam a little hamlet in the suburbs of Chennai where the Kali temple is located.
When I arrived at this temple around 6 p.m. there was hardly anyone in sight. The idol of Sri Chakra Kali or Bhavadhaarini is an extremely beautiful one and exudes a sense of total tranquility. I sat down directly in front of this great Mother and immediately felt She was “alive”, looking tenderly at me!
In front of me was the main founder of the temple or “Kali Mama” as I called him. He was seated with his back towards me reciting what sounded like an Ashtothram or litany of sacred names while inside the inner sanctum, his wife was placing a flower at Mother Kali’s feet with each holy name that was recited.
I closed my eyes and concentrated on Kali, while listening at the same time to “Bala Andhadi” on my I pod. I beseeched this great Mother to shower her blessings on me and remove the many obstacles in my path.
I must have sat in total contemplation for about half an hour; it seemed as just a few moments. Finally, the chanting of the sacred verses stopped both on my I pod and by the elderly priest. I opened my eyes just in time to witness the main arathi or showing of lighted lamps to the Goddess. Kali Mama was doing this routine slowly and with great involvement and care. Kali’s eyes glowed fiercely in the darkness of the inner sanctum.
I prayed to her from the bottom of my heart. Please give me a sign you have heard my request, I requested her.
What happened next was totally amazing. The skies darkened almost on cue, a loud rumble of thunder split the horizon and within seconds there was a sharp downpour of rain. Kali Mama seemed taken aback as well. Without turning around, he simply muttered “Looks like someone’s prayers have been answered. This is a good signal from the Goddess”.
What was especially strange about this whole incident was that it had been hot and sunny the whole afternoon without a trace of rain bearing clouds in the sky!
I paid my respects to this fierce devotee of Kali and left the temple completely at peace with myself. I recalled Sri Ezhilmani’s words “ If you pray to Bala, all other Gods too, will come instantly to help you because they love the little child so much”!. This was certainly proved to be true!
And so it came to pass that on Sunday, October 12th, Bala summoned me once more to see her although I had not really intended to visit her until the following day.
It so happened that a couple of Bala devotees wished to make the trip to Nemili that day and I thought I could take them with me in the car. After all, I thought to myself, I’m sure Sri Ezhilmani will not mind if I come one day earlier to say good bye to him!
So, here I was at Nemili, once more around 5.30 p.m. on that Sunday.
As I walked inside the Peetam, I noticed there was a small crowd of people seated on the main dais waiting expectantly for Sri Ezhilmani, the Peetathipadhi , to walk in.
I sat at the back of the hall, leaning against one of the pillars. I noticed Murali coming out of Sri Ezhilmani’s room. He came straight to me and said “ There are some people here you say they know you very well”. I was totally surprised because I had not recognized anyone in the crowd. In any case I followed Murali as he led me directly to a couple seated right in front of Bala’s Peetam. “ These people have come in from New Jersey, U.S.A” said Murali. When the introductions were made, I realized immediately that I had spoken to the young lady while I was in New York. At that time she had mentioned that both she and her husband were planning to visit India during Navarathri and also informed me that they had read my website with great interest.
, to come across them that particular day, that too on a day I had not really planned to visit Nemili, came indeed as a great surprise and I didn’t think it was a mere coincidence.
Bala wanted to play a small game and had made both of us meet in front of her holy presence!
As I took leave of Sri Ezhilmani and his family that day he merely remarked “ You said you would come in tomorrow. It is a bit crowded at the Peetam today, so please excuse me if I don’t have much time to talk to you”.
I thought for a moment and then said “ Mama, can I stop by again tomorrow evening to see you and take leave of you properly before departing to London?”.
He consented and I left that night , once again completely amazed by the miraculous events planned and carried out by Bala.
It was as if she said “ Don’t think you can make any firm plans without my consent. Everything that is going to happen in your life, I already know and have consented to it happening. Everything I do is only for your good. Remember this especially when outcomes you hope for aren’t terribly favorable to you”.
Thus ended my eleventh trip to Nemili in October, 2008.
THE TWELFTH MIRACLE
MONDAY, OCTOBER 13TH, 2008.
This was, or so I thought at the time, my final visit to Nemili before my departure to London on October 15th. I arrived in the early afternoon at Sri Bala Peetam and to my great relief, there was no other devotees present at that time.
For the first time since I have known them, I found the family of Sri Ezhilmani in a completely relaxed and jovial mood. For almost two hours we chatted together, Sri Ezhilmani Mama, Baby Amma, Sri Baba.G, Mohan , Murali and myself. Until now, there had been a slightly formal air in their manner towards me. Today, I felt perhaps drawn a bit closer to them, or is it closer to the circle that Bala has drawn around herself?
I was sure that this visit was no mere coincidence either. Here was Bala making sure I came in on several occasions to see her and her family in many moods, many angles, expressing many of their concerns, talking about various matters pertaining to the Peetam, about people close to Bala, about the behaviour of some devotees, etc. Here was a family whose main leader was Bala herself, followed by her favorite son Sri Ezhilmani. The respect given him by his wife, sons, daughters in law, family relations, and grand children, is truly amazing to behold. It’s a respect not tinged with fear or compulsion but a respect given with much love and affection.
For, Sri Ezhilmani is the principal connection that all his family has and will have with Bala.
Although Baby Amma claims Bala “lives” within her and she appears in her dreams almost daily passing on instructions, advice and prophesies; although Sri Baba.G. with his “magic” pen and ability to write has charmed the circle of Bala devotees with many lilting melodies, songs and thought provoking divine words; it is still Sri Ezhilmani, who will always remain as the one and only person who loves Bala truly and whose love Bala returns in full measure.
This gentle man runs the Peetam like clockwork paying attention to the slightest detail, all motivated from the boundless love he has for his unborn daughter Bala. A true inspiration for all seekers of truth!
I left rather late that evening after saying my final farewell to Sri Ezhilmani and his loving family.
I promised I would return in the new year, maybe in time to celebrate Sri Ezhilmani’s 71st birthday.
As I was leaving, Sri Baba.G gave me a book and a photograph of Sri Bala. This was the book titled “ Baba.G in our lives”, which was released on the first day of Navarathri. He had written a few lines of his latest composition on the inside cover “ Consider all your sorrows and problems banished as if it were yesterday; the songs of the pure and holy Bala come wafting in the breeze today”.
I noticed the number “7” written in black ink on the top right hand corner of the very first page.
Baba.G. explained the significance of this number.
“ The number seven has great significance because my father was born on February 7th” he said. “ Also, on the very first day, while we were arranging the holy pot or Kalasam on the first step of the peetam, we found that the height had to be raised substantially for the pot to be seated firmly . So, a few books were placed beneath the pot to elevate it and increase the height.
It took exactly nine of these books to get the pot up to the desired height and I wrote the respective numbers in black ink on the inside cover of each one of these books fully intending to give them away after the auspicious period was over. So after the final day festivities were completed, I decided to give these books to the closest family members around me. The first book I gave my father, the second one, I kept for myself, the third one went to my mother, the fourth to Mohan, the fifth book was accepted by Murali, the sixth by my uncle Chinnamani, the sixth book by his son Manikandan. Now, I was left with just three books and you are the lucky recipient of this seventh book”.
I was quite overwhelmed. To even think that I was the first member outside the family to have received this book was indeed the biggest honor Bala could have given me. I carefully took the book and the photo of Sri Bala and later that night as I started to pack this was the first precious object that I packed into the suitcase I was taking back with me!
THE THIRTEENTH MIRACLE
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 16TH, 2008.
How was I still at Chennai making one more, and perhaps final trip to Nemili?
Well, after my visit on Monday, 13th, October, I definitely thought I would depart as scheduled on Wednesday, October 15th.
However, even as I checked in for my flight on line and printed out my boarding pass, Bala ensured I would see her one last time making sure I had completed a total of thirteen journeys to Nemili. After all, Four is her number and although I write about this today, Bala has decided all my travel plans and my life’s purpose, the very first day I walked inside her Peetam!
On the morning of October 14th, there were a few unpleasant family interludes at the end of which I decided to cancel my travel plans for the next day. A combination of events made me feel totally deprived of expecting any understanding from even the precious little family I had still left. In any case, although I wished to make the correct decision, I also felt that whatever decision I took at this time would be misinterpreted by two opposing sets of family members.
Totally confused, I sought help from Bala. I called Sri Ezhilmani and quickly explained my position. His answer was clear “ Just go back at this time. There are certain forces trying to make use of you to serve their own selfish interests. So, even though you cancelled your ticket, don’t delay further, catch the next flight back to London”.
So, this is exactly what I did.
I re scheduled my flight to Saturday October 18th and decided to visit Nemili just once more to thank Bala and Sri Ezhilmani for all the help, advice and support they had given me and continue to give me.
I caught up with the family for the last time on the evening of Thursday, October 16th and was particularly happy to receive the blessings of Sri Baba.G. on this day sacred and holy to the esteemed Guru!
Thirteen trips to Nemili had been made during the auspicious period of Navarathri, 2008.
Bala had her own reasons why I should visit her.
She made sure I would write about certain episodes and events that happened either during this period, before or after it.
It’s as if the concept of “Time” is no longer relevant as far as Bala is concerned because she is there at all times guiding me , comforting me and just being there for me .
In a sense, even as I started to write about the thirteen miracles, I repeatedly questioned Bala’s directive.
Clearly, no great miracle occurred during these repeated visits to Nemili during October, 2008.
I have said earlier, my fingers have sped over the computer keyboard writing up the contents of each chapter as though I have no volition of my own. The words written here are definitely provided only by Bala. There were times when I paused mid sentence trying not to think about proceeding either forward or backwards.
After all, Bala told me at the very outset “ Don’t look back at your writings or try and correct them. Move forward only. And start each Miracle after listening to my song. Don’t attempt to correct anything until the very end after you have completed writing. You shall stop when I tell you to stop”.
I questioned her as I do now “ Isn’t it a bit presumptious on my part to think that you, the great Goddess are actually dictating this to me just as you do for Baba.G. Who is going to believe this?”
The answer from her “ I am asking you to write certain important things that I wish people to read. You are no more important than any other of my devotees or even those people who haven’t even heard of me. I am merely using you to accomplish my goal. This piece of work is essential in my grand scheme of things that you will never understand now. “
I pause for a moment.
After a break of a couple of days I resumed writing today.( December 1st, 2008). Why today? I could have written something yesterday after my Bala Parayanam; or indeed written something tomorrow . Why did I complete my writing today?
The answer for this too lies within the realm of Sri Bala.
Until the year 2002, I had not heard of Sri Bala. In the year 2008, I can’t think what my life will be without her!
I pray sincerely that I never lose sight of this amazing child for the rest of this lifetime and even if I am reborn, my only desire is to be in her service, within her sight, as part of her vast and glorious family.
Sri Bala Charanam
Sri Bala Thunai.